LVN Editorial: No go on enforcement of Question 1
Attorney General Adam Laxalt stunned the state last week when he announced that Question 1, a ballot measure that required more background checks on sales and transfers was unenforceable.
Because of the manner in which it was written the ballot measure called for the federal government — not the state — to perform the background checks. Not so fast, says the FBI, which notified the Nevada Department of Public Safety it would not conduct the background checks. In a letter to Nevada officials, the FBI said it is the state’s responsibility to perform the checks and that the ballot measure’s approval “cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.”
Nevada is a “point of contact” state, meaning it is one of 12 states that handle its own background checks.
The Bloomberg-backed measure specified Nevada was prohibited from conducting private sales checks and running the information run through its repository. The state, therefore, has no authority as Laxalt said in his opinion. Furthermore, local reaction was just as strong:
“This is what happens when you allow uniformed, out-of-state lobbying groups that prey on people’s emotions to write your laws,” said Robert Uithoven, campaign director for a Nevada group affiliated with the National Rifle Association, which mostly funded the opposition.
From the onset, the bill was poorly written as evidenced by the requirement to have the FBI conduct the background checks.
Proponents of Question 1 said the majority of Nevadans favored the passage of this initiative. Correction, a plurality did, and Clark County was the only county that voted in favor of it. Unfortunately, a margin of 100,000 votes from the Southern Nevada cast votes in favor. As for the 15 rural counties, Question 1 went down in flames, 79-21 percent and in Washoe, 54-45 percent.
Jennifer Crowe, spokeswoman for Nevada Moms Demand Action, remained optimist despite the last-minute reprieve from the AG.
“We are confident that the state and the FBI will work together and make it happen to implement the will of the people and protect our public safety,” Crowe said.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said in an email, the Senate “will consider legislative solutions this session to ensure that Nevada law is enforced” when the Legislature begins its 2017 Legislature session in a month.
The gun proponents appear bent on trying to do anything possible to ensure the enforcement of the ballot measure. We wonder how Ford and the Democrats propose to do that in both the Senate and Assembly.
We opposed Question 1 before the election, and we still oppose the initiative along with Laxalt, but we wonder how Ford and the rest of his legislative cronies will be able to circumvent the language of this question by twisting it to their liking. The bill’s writers erred in their wording.
Better luck next time and perhaps your aim won’t backfire.
LVN Editorials represent the viewpoint of this newspaper and appear on Wednesday.